13 Creative Things I Did To Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt

Updated March 20, 2017
by Kyle Taylor

When I started this blog a few years ago, I was DROWNING in credit card debt — over $10,000, in fact. 

It got so bad that there were times I had to roll pennies just to buy groceries!

I had read practically every personal finance book out there, but the idea that cutting out Starbucks from my budget was magically going to make me a millionaire seemed ridiculous.

So instead of cutting lattes, I had to get creative with my budget and that meant not only finding ways to save money, but finding a few ways to boost my income as well.

Here are the 13 things I did to pay off my $10,000 in credit card debt…

1. I Negotiated My Bills to Save $400+/Year

We all know you can negotiate the price of a car, but did you know that you can negotiate your cell phone bill and cable bill?

I recently did this with my AT&T bill. I already had the cheapest advertised plan, but I called AT&T and asked if they could do anything to help me reduce the bill. I ended up knocking off $20/month off, saving me $240/year!

I also did the same thing with my cable bill and racked up another $200/year in savings. Here are some tips on how to negotiate these bills.

If you’re not seeing the results you want when you unplug here and there, a free iOS app called Clarity Money will actually negotiate your bills down for you.

The company starts by scanning your bank statements for areas where you might be overspending or overpaying and then does the hard work by contacting the companies on your behalf! If they’re able to negotiate a discount, they keep 33% of the savings as a fee for their services. And if they save you nothing, you owe nothing.

2. I Consolidated My Debt

Most of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates that are north of 20%. If you’re in the same boat, it might be worth seeing if you can consolidate and refinance your debt.

A good resource is Even Financial which can help you borrow up to $35,000 (with no collateral needed) and compare interest rates from several lenders.

If you do decide to consolidate your credit card debt, be sure you don’t close your old accounts. A huge part of your credit score revolves around the length of your credit history and closing active accounts can definitely hurt it.

3. I Created Extra Income That Didn’t Add to My Work Day

For a lot of our readers it’s not really possible to add another job to the schedule. You’re already working 2 or 3 jobs and still aren’t making ends meet.

It’s a pretty common problem, which is why I always suggest you look for ways to boost income passively and doesn’t require you to work a ton of additional hours.

One of my favorites is the Shoptracker app. It pays you $3/month to share your Amazon purchase history. That’s $36/year for doing nothing!

Here’s a long list of other apps that will pay you for just having them installed passively.

4. I Watched YouTube Videos to Make an Extra $250

The folks over at Swagbucks will actually pay you to watch videos! Now, most of them aren’t as entertaining as the Grumpy Cat series, but you’re getting paid – so who cares?

This works because the videos are sponsored by brands who need to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one of their ads, they’ll credit your account with cash. This is only available on your Android phone or desktop computer.

5. I Found Rebates on Everything I Bought

Obviously making cuts to my spending was a huge part of my success, but it’s not possible to completely eliminate it. You still have to buy necessities like groceries.

But, I did learn how to earn rebates on everything I bought and then applied them directly to my credit card debt.

To do this, I joined the free shopping rebate site Mypoints. It paid me 1.4% cashback on my Target.com purchases, 3.4% on my Amazon purchases, 5.4% on my Walmart purchases, and so on.

Plus, Mypoints gave me a free $10 Amazon gift card just for joining and using the site for the first time. 

6. I Rented Out My Apartment & Pocketed $125

Alright, this might not work for everybody, but have you thought about renting out your house or apartment for one night?

I’ve used Airbnb to both rent out my apartment and stay in many others while traveling, and it’s a fantastic way to put your home to work for you.

Whether you’re renting out a single room or your entire home, make the most of your Airbnb rental by following these tips.

7. I Hosted an Online Garage Sale 

We all have way too much junk just sitting around, so this month’s project is to sell some of your old stuff online. Here are some of my favorite websites for doing just that:

– letgo: You can sell almost anything on this app.

– Bookscouter: Use this site to sell your old books

– Decluttr: This site will pay you for your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, video games, gaming consoles and other electronics. (Plus, enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!)

I was able to sell more than $500 in stuff that was just sitting in my garage and closets.

8. I Weighed In on Presidential Politics

What do you think of President Donald Trump? Are you happy with how the 2016 Election turned out? 

I’m kind of a political nerd, so one way I’ve made extra money is by registering for the major polling companies (Vip VoiceIpsos Panel are the two largest).

However, you’ve got to be a registered voter in order to participate. I did this during the 2012 election and I was able to pocket around $100, so I’m looking forward to it again.

A word of caution though: these can also be frustrating at times because not everyone qualifies. Most are looking for a certain number of people in each demographic, so it’s hit and miss whether you’ll be asked to complete a poll.

9. I Let Fronto Put an Ad on My Smartphone

You pick up your cell phone dozens of times a day, whether to check the weather report, answer emails or text a friend.

What if you could make money just by picking up your phone to do all those ordinary things?

Instead of a picture of your dog or some flowers on your lock screen, Fronto presents ads for various products and services.

Like what you see? Swipe left on the ad to go straight to the advertiser’s website, YouTube video or app download page.

If the ad doesn’t resonate with you, or if you’re in a hurry, simply slide right to go to your phone as normal. Or, if you just want to check your notifications, just slide down to display them.

Either way, you get paid just for seeing the ads on your lock screen. In fact, you can earn up to $60/year just for using your phone normally!

10. I Found Free Entertainment

Let’s face it: It costs money to have fun. My family could easily spend thousands of dollars a year on entertainment if we had the cash and I bet you can relate.

But what if I told you that you could enjoy movies, bowling nights, amusement parks, water parks, weekend getaways and more for free? Better yet, how would you like to get paid to go on these kinds of outings?

I do — through mystery shopping. Here’s a list of my favorite companies.

11. I Signed Up for Free Gift Card Promotions

Believe it or not, there are sites that will give you free gift cards just for signing up with them.

One of my favorites is cash-back shopping site Ebates.

It’s giving away $10 gift cards if you sign-up as a new member and earn your first cashback rebate. You can choose $10 to Target, Walmart, Macy’s or Kohl’s.

You do have to wait 30 days. But, it’s free money so can you really complain?  🙂

12. I Evaluated My Local Stores with Mobee: $10

Have you ever tried mystery shopping? The Mobee app will pay you to go undercover in your local stores and rate the level of customer service and cleanliness, among other things.

Most of you know that I’ve done quite a bit of mystery shopping, so I was pretty excited to find this app. I found it really easy to use and the shops went pretty quickly, but I wasn’t too impressed with the payment amounts.

For example, there was a Subway mystery shop in my area that was paying $8. That’s not a huge amount for a mystery shop, plus I had to buy a sandwich during the shop that wasn’t reimbursed.

Regardless, it was like getting a free lunch, so I’ll take it!

13. I Watched TV

Do you like to stay up-to-date on the latest popular — and not-so-popular — TV shows? Get paid for the TV you’re watching in your spare time by writing reviews!

Writing about TV comes in a lot of forms, according to NPR television reporter Linda Holmes. Lots of sites pay writers to review or recap shows, but they come with different tones.

You could do a straightforward review of the craft of the show, search for symbolism in the story or start a conversation with readers about the lives of the characters.

If you prefer a bit of snark, you might write for a site that prefers to riff off TV shows. These turn your review into an opportunity for biting punchlines.

A few places to get you started:

Your Turn: Have you done anything creative to pay off credit card debt?

Disclosure: What would Abe do? Probably pat us on the back for placing affiliate links in this post. Thanks for helping us fill The Penny Hoarder’s beer fridge!

by Kyle Taylor
Kyle is the founder of ThePennyHoarder.com

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